To The Overwhelmed Homeschooling Mother
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This week I’ve been sharing many ideas and tips that I’ve found helpful in my time as a homeschooling mom. While my focus has been on large family homeschooling, all of these ideas are just as practical for smaller families. After all, my children didn’t just appear all at once! When I first started homeschooling I had a Kindergartener, a toddler, and a baby.
Homeschooling with just a few young children can also be a big challenge! It’s so easy to start feeling overwhelmed. I want to share with you that it’s ok, really it is! I don’t know any homeschooling mom or dad that can say they have never felt overwhelmed. Goodness, it doesn’t matter if you homeschool or not parents get overwhelmed at times!
We all have visions and goals for our children. We all have fears of messing things up, but the truth is despite your hard day’s things will be ok, really they will.
Take A Break
When life becomes overwhelming, you need to take a step back. It’s impossible to get a clear focus when you’re in the middle of a whirlwind. You need to take some time to calm down and figure out what isn’t working.
Take some time off, maybe unschool for a while. Focus on spending time together as a family and when you feel better you can start working on fixing the problem. Often we are just burned out and need a little down time.
Stop Comparing Yourself to Others
It is so important to stop comparing your family and yourself to others. No two homeschooling family will look alike! You are not a failure because you use a different curriculum or learning style then your friends.
Yes, I know that when us homeschooling mommas get together we often like to talk about what curriculum we are using. That newest and coolest thing we’ve tried etc. Sometimes this can turn into a real discouragement. It’s ok to love that new thing you’re doing but, please don’t try to force all of your friends into it as well!
We are very eclectic homeschoolers, really I love many different parts of many different teaching styles. I love unit studies because we enjoy taking the time to really immerse ourselves in a topic. It is also a way to simplify lessons. Rarely in life will you find the activities you do can be fit into a narrow topic. So why do we try to do our school lessons that way? Ah, that’s a post for another time.
I also love the Charlotte Mason methods. Short lessons, using copywork, narration and dictation and living books in our learning. But, wait a minute wasn’t Charlotte Mason really against unit studies?! If you hang around in many Charlotte Mason circles long enough you’ll find a lot of bashing of unit studies and other methods. Why? Why do we have to bash other styles of learning just because they are not a good fit for our families? You don’t!
Please, Don’t Listen To The Naysayers
If you are using a combination of teaching and learning styles and it works for your family don’t change it just because someone else says it isn’t the “pure” or “right” way. It is you teaching your children after all this is likely one of the reasons you decided to homeschool right? So you could customize your children’s education to best suit them.
Homeschool blogs, forums, and Pinterest are all wonderful sources of inspiration but, they can also lead to discouragement. If you find yourself always trying to do it all and this is causing you a lot of stress maybe it’s time to step back from these sites for a while.
When I first started to homeschool I wanted to do everything myself. As my children have gotten older and I’ve relaxed more I’ve realized that it is often valuable to use outside classes. I’m not an expert in every subject, although I certainly can buy the resources and teach myself how to teach all of these classes, sometimes it’s a better use of my time to just buy a wonderful online program for my children.
Outsourcing classes does not make you a failure! Even when you use online programs you can be very involved in your child’s learning, or not it’s up to you.
Math is one subject I often use online programs for. We’ve tried many and I’ve found that CTC Math, A+ Interactive Math, and Math U See have been the best fits for many of our children. One of my children doesn’t enjoy math that uses video instruction at all. Instead, for her, we use a variety of activities for living math and the free MEP math program.
Math is one of the few subjects that many of my children are using different programs. It would take me a large part of the day to teach math to all of my children. By outsourcing it to quality online programs I only need to step in when they are stuck on a question. All the instruction, testing, and grading are taken care of for me.
Take Time To Reflect
Often times we get so busy that we forget to take time for ourselves. Try to make a little time for yourself each day. I know this is hard to do! But really if you can get even 20 minutes of quiet time a day you’ll focus so much better. For myself, my garden is my quiet place. I love to head out there to tend it. My nerves relax, I find myself feeling peaceful and it’s my place to really connect with God.
When my children were all young, it was often tempting to use their nap time to power clean the house. I’ve learned to first take that little bit of quiet time for myself. Then once I’ve relaxed I can work away at my to do list. If you try to work on your list first you will never find time for your own quiet time. Besides, I find I work much better when I’m calm. (smile)